Not a Box by Antoinette Portis: Fun & Imaginative

“Dedicated to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes”


An active imagination is a wonderful thing to behold. Children can lose themselves for hours in games of pretend, thinking up the most wonderful and absurd scenarios and completely and utterly believing in them. It’s a shame that as we grow up we lose the ability to think as we did as children, necessary- otherwise everyone would be driving imaginary airplanes to their offices that they like to think are made out of candy- but a shame nonetheless. We watch kids’ antics and smile and shake our heads, grounded by what we know as reality. In Not A Box author Antoinette Portis goes to bat for children everywhere to try and prove that imagination can be as vivid as real life, and reminds us adults that even though we can’t see something, it doesn’t mean that in the eye of the creator it’s not real.

not a box by antionette portis

It’s NOT A Box

Much to the annoyance of the main character, a simply outlined bunny rabbit, someone (presumably an adult) continuously asks him things like “Why are you sitting in a box?” Bunny replies “It’s not a box.”

“Why are you standing on top of that box?” and Bunny replies “It’s not a box!”

And so on and so forth. Each time the question is asked Bunny replies “it’s not a box” in slightly more varied and increasingly frustrated forms as the omniscient person asking questions continues to pester him. Each time he replies there will be a red scribbly drawing doodled over Bunny and the box, turning them into one thing or another that Bunny has clearly thought up. For example, when he’s sitting in the box it’s covered with the outline of a racecar-and he has goggles on.

It’s Not A Box

It looks like a racecar, or an airplane, or wait…a spaceship! The illustrations in this book are vital to it-and they’re brilliant. Antoinette Portis uses thick, black and extremely simplified outlines to illustrate his story. Bunny, the box, and all the settings he dreams up are very straightforward. To show the difference between said box and whatever Bunny imagines it as are there are scribbled red drawings. One page shows Bunny spraying the box with a hose, the next the box is doodled in red on so that it looks like a burning building and Bunny is a fireman. They were really well done drawings, and helped a great deal to make this book as special as it is.

not a box illustrations

Well…What Is It?

It’s a book of course-and a really good one at that. It is a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor Book (Theodore was Dr. Seuss for those of you who don’t know) and that in and of itself is testament to how powerfully imaginative and fun it is. Reading gives you a chance to get creative with your kid, or at least show you appreciate their imagination and support it. Don’t be fooled by this books simplistic look-once you start reading it you may find that with a little bit of imagination it is something well beyond that-a gateway back into our childhoods, when we could sit in a cardboard box and imagine we were flying to the moon.

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One Response to “Not a Box by Antoinette Portis: Fun & Imaginative”

  1. Laurel H. says:

    This book is wonderful, and it should be noted that Bunny is purposefully written as neither male nor female.

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